The theory of Reed-Solomon code shortening in general was developed and the degradation due to shortening in the context of concatenated coding was qualified. It is shown that in the NASA/ESA concatenated system, significant degradations occur only when N 180. A Reed-Solomon code was concatenated with an inner (7, 1/2) convolutional code. Under some circumstances, it would be desirable to use a shorter outer code word length. For example, the format of the data coming from science instruments on board a spacecraft may lend itself naturally to a word length of 200 symbols rather than 223. To accommodate such code word lengths, the Reed-Solomon code can be shortened to an (N, N-32) code where N can be any integer between 33 and 255. Shortening the code, however, changes its performance. On one hand, the amount of redundancy per information symbol increases. Because of this increased redundancy, the amount of energy per information symbol is decreased by code shortening. The overall effect is to degrade the performance of the code.